CHEFS DU BUCK
Sweating over a spitting wok isn’t the most glamorous work, but it sure does feed the ego. “Famous people,” reminds Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, “beg you for a reservation.” Hollywood has taken notice: Cooking themes account for eight movies currently in production. That’s good news for today’s top chefs, who sell everything from rubs to real estate.
Puck expanded his eatery business beyond restaurants, but the world’s highest-paid chef may have overeaten: Three ObaChine restaurants were shuttered; sales of his frozen pizza line shrank. But his canned soups and cookware still simmer. In just four appearances on the Home Shopping Network, Puck sold more than 650,000 pots and pans.
Fans swarm to his restaurants and cable television shows. Now they steal his trademark cooking quips. Tasty morsels like “Kick it up a notch” and “It’s not brain surgery” are now part of the culinary lexicon. His latest cookbook, “Everyday is a Party,” sold 58,000 copies in one weekend on QVC.
The classically trained French chef pioneered fusion cookery in his four Vong restaurants and now runs the four-star Jean Georges at the base of Trump International Hotel on New York’s Central Park West. Foodies love his line of sauces and rubs; a third cookbook is due out later this year. Up next: a hotel and condominium complex in New York.
Made Aureole a New York City hot spot serving up an indecipherable mix of American cuisine. Now he’s cooking with acquisitions: owns stakes in a dairy farm, a flower market, even a springwater bottler. His four-story wine tower in Las Vegas should provide adequate storage for a recently purchased vineyard in California’s Sonoma County.
Stayed busy playing celebrity golf and cooking with Martha Stewart, but still found time to open more Nobu restaurants in Las Vegas and Malibu. New locations set for Miami, London and Milan (with partner Giorgio Armani). This month he’s expected to team with Celine Dion in the Nabisco Championship Golf Tournament in Palm Springs.